For much more on New York state history, check out our Path Through History site.
A vast network of churches, safe houses and community sites, the Underground Railroad guided nearly 100,000 slaves to freedom in the North and Canada. Today, you can visit New York's Underground Railroad system, from Brooklyn to Upstate New York, discovering the stories behind America's bravest abolitionists along the way.
Known as "the Moses of Her People," Harriet Tubman guided 300 slaves to freedom while making 19 daring rescue trips to the South. Visit The Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn, NY for a trip through history honoring the Underground Railroad's famed conductor, who is said to have never lost a single passenger in her courageous fight for freedom.
Step back in time to Brooklyn, 1849, as you walk down the tunneled basement beneath Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims--the same tunnel where countless slaves hid while escaping to freedom on the Underground Railroad. Locally known as "the Grand Central Depot" of the Underground Railroad, the church was a hub of anti-slavery sentiment in New York. It's minister, Henry Ward Beecher, generated public attention for his strong abolitionists views and promoted resistance to the Fugitive Slave Law. The brother of Uncle Tom's Cabin author Harriet Beecher Stowe, Beecher attracted thousands of people to his sermons, which declared the rules of humanity far greater than those of the Constitution. One of the few active Underground Railroad congregations housed in its original location, visitors can tour the site at 75 Hicks Street in Brooklyn.
A pilgrimage site for African-Americans and white abolitionists during the Civil War, the John Brown Farm State Historic Site signifies the abolitionist activism that helped slaves move along the Underground Railroad to Lake Placid. Known for his leadership in the raid on Harper's Ferry - an effort to ignite an armed slave revolt in 1859 - the historic land in Lake Placid commemorates Brown's fierce advocacy for freedom.
A stronghold for abolitionists, Starr Clark Tin Shop in the village of Mexico was one of the most active Underground Railroad centers in Central New York. Tour the tin shop where abolitionist Starr Clark housed fugitive slaves on their journey to freedom. Built in 1832 and located in the center of town along three major transportation routes, the site was vital connection between New York and Canada.
Walk in the footsteps of abolitionists heroes like Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass when you visit St. James AME Zion Church. Constructed in 1832, it is the oldest church in Ithaca, NY and one of the first AME Zion churches in the country. It was a focal point for those escaping to Canada and newfound home for other fugitive slaves who were so impressed by Ithaca's anti-slavery support that they settled and built homes around St. James.
Visit Foster Memorial AME Zion Church, a church believed to be the oldest in Westchester County. Considered to be the "Mother of the Church," abolitionist Amanda Foster was born in New York in 1806 and went on to provide food and shelter to escaped slaves. The site has served as a religious, social and cultural crossroads as church members helped former slaves escape north as well as settle in the community of Tarrytown.
Recognized as a safe haven for escaped slaves fleeing to Canada, The Gerrit Smith Estate proved an intellectual center for the antislavery movement as hundreds of slaves were granted safe passage and scores of abolitionists committed to the cause at Smith's home in Peterboro. Gerrit Smith (1797 - 1874), a wealthy social reformer who acted as an influential station master in the Underground Railroad, served as president of the New York Anti-Slavery Society. You can visit this honorary Underground Railroad site and National Historic Landmark every weekend from Memorial Day through August.